Filling material with antimicrobial drugs have been designed to stop bacteria that dig under the tooth fillings and cause new cavities called recurrent cavities or caries. These recurrent cavities increase the patients visit to dentists and affect 100 million people every year that lead to an additional cost of US$34 billion to treat.
The research was done by the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Faculty of Dentistry, and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.
In a recent paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, professors Ben Hatton, Yoav Finer and PhD student Cameron Stewart tackled the issue and proposed a novel solution: a filling material with tiny particles made by self-assembly of antimicrobial drugs, designed to stop bacteria in its tracks. These particles may solve one of the biggest problems with antibacterial filling materials: how do you store enough drug within the material to be effective for someone's entire life?
"We know very well that bacteria specifically attack the margins between fillings and the remaining tooth to create cavities," says Finer. "Giving these materials an antimicrobial supply that will last for years could greatly reduce this problem."
Looking ahead, the research team plans on testing these new drug-storing particles in dental fillings, monitoring their performance when attacked by bacteria and saliva in the complex environment in the mouth. With some fine-tuning, this new 'smart' material could create a stronger filling and fewer trips to the dentist.